Wednesday, March 31, 2004


Am I an FON-attracting magnet, &*$%#@??? ( FON = Full Of Nonsense, almost always applicable to patients +/- their annoying relatives or friends ).

10 minutes short of 3am, and I'm faced with another patient who isn't happy that she had to pay $65 for Nothing. Nothing, I presume, means (1) no medication, (2) not enough attention from the doctor, and (3) less than 15 minutes of chat-time.

Young woman in her early 20s, already seen twice by her GP for the flu, then developed an ?allergic reaction to "some pill". Claims it manifested as facial swelling, but during her first visit here yesterday night, she didn't bring the culprit medication, couldn't even tell me its name, and had completely normal vitals and physical exam. I told her to go to her GP later this morning because he'd already seen here previously, and is obviously more familiar with whatever meds he prescribed.

Patient returns at 2:30am, this time lugging a small plastic bag of meds and asking to see me again. I gamely go through everything and find out that Voltaren ( an NSAID ) is the main suspect, but that she'd already been instructed to stop it almost 2 days ago. The GP had even started her on the correct dose of Prednisolone for her allergy. Her friend kept insisting the patient's face is different from before, even though she's always appeared round-cheeked ( I looked at her IC photo, for pete's sake! ). Again, I advise them to see the GP because he saw her before the "allergy" set in, and is the best person to gauge how severe the "facial swelling" is. They kept blaming the GP, saying his medicine is lousy, etc. I told them they were wrong, that he's started her on the appropriate treatment and so on, but they didn't seem to care.

Finally, they hinted that they wanted a refund of the ER fees. I just refused to comment, after which they stormed out, with the friend saying "Hospital doctors are useless."

Complaint #2 on its way. Watch for it.

Which reminds me, I still need to answer Complaint #1.
Weak Humour in the midst of... I don't know anymore. Haha.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Random Musings

Off-days will do this to you. That and 2 morning hours wasted waiting in the condo for the Singtel technician to hook up a second phone line. 9-11am my eye. He didn't show up till 10:35am, by which time I was getting an ulcer thanks to the Singtel operator, who kept disregarding my "When the heck is the guy coming?" question and hitting me with useless "What seems to be the problem with the line?" comebacks. Glad that's over and done with.

Nothing much happened yesterday. Got a haircut, arranged yet another blogger get-together ( wow, they rhyme :)), watched a video recording of "Minority Report" and found a major glitch that was quite annoying, especially since I have immense respect for Steven Spielberg's work. Do you want to know what it is?

*Spoiler alert if you haven't seen it yet.*

In one tense scene, Lamar ( this old fellow who founded and heads the pre-crime department ) shoots Colin Farrell's character in the chest. Shocking, yes, but as I thought about it some more, I realized that the pre-cogs didn't predict it. But then again, is it because Agatha was being dragged around by John Anderton ( Tom Cruise ) at the time? After she was returned to the lab, she and the other two predicted that Lamar would kill Anderton. So does this crime prediction thing work only when all 3 of them are together?
I guess I could rewind and check this out for myself, but I'm pretty sure at least one of the readers here can provide an answer. Thanks in advance, by the way. :)

I'm feeling quite rejuvenated, even though I had only one full day off work. It being a Monday was definitely an added incentive, heh heh. :D I'm now on night again, with no idea what my April 1st shift is, but it's an "all-star team" this evening -- me, plus a very experienced senior MO, a more junior guy who's really nice and works hard, and the sweetest registrar anyone could ever ask for. Must volunteer to stay in resus all night, haha.

A visit to the SNEC with my mom for her eye appointment this afternoon was... interesting. Her surgeon happens to be the SNEC director. His reputation as an excellent ophthalmologist, however, is well-known, and he performed nothing short of a miracle with my mom's complicated condition. But he's also a man of few words, maybe a bit gruff at times, so people tend to tip-toe around him, including myself. :) He was in a good mood today, though. My mom insists that he recognizes me because of my affiliation with the SMA News, Sensory, and occasional ranting emails to the SMC, and is pretty sure he spotted me standing silently by the door to his room as he examined her. I really can't say, 'cos I was dressed casually and probably not looking doctor-ish in t-shirt, jeans and slippers, but before we left, he said, "Thank you very much" to us, which has never happened before in the 18 months we've known him. My mom thinks it has something to do with my blog entries -- ie. the ones where I blasted the Forum for printing incorrect accusations directed against the SNEC. How he could've found out about them, I really don't know. Whether he alluded to my writing when he said "Thank you" -- could be a long shot. In any case, my mom and I were pleasantly surprised, and greatly appreciate it. :)

And speaking of writing, while driving to the hospital just now, my med school interview suddenly popped into my head. ( I'd earlier dreamt about resuscitating a major trauma patient during an afternoon nap -- must be the nonya fried rice I ate for lunch. :))
A member of the panel -- whose name tag I never read 'cos I was so nervous -- asked about my JC civics tutor's testimonial, which mentioned how letters of mine had been published in both local and foreign print media. He then queried if I'd continue writing once I'd become a full-fledged doctor. My answer was yes, then he replied, "What if you don't have the time to do so?" My response: "Then I'll make sure I find the time." I'm glad I fulfilled that promise. I wonder if the interviewer in question remembers our conversation?

I shall end today's entry with an explanation that re-minisce has been asking for: Why did I think he ( re-minisce ) would look like my ex?

It's simple. And Re-m, don't take this the wrong way. The reason is: your style of writing is a lot like his, and to be fair, my ex has an affinity for language ( both English and Mandarin ). We met through the Internet after all, and I was first drawn by his words, not knowing what he looked like till more than a year later, when he finally introduced himself to me. Daily phone conversations thereafter somehow never captured the magic of our numerous email exchanges, but he did write me some lovely cards and letters ( the latter during a short elective stint in China ). I even kept these for a time after the breakup, though I detested him thoroughly. I guess I did so because they were, in fact, beautiful missives reflecting everything I'd ever hoped for, even if that dream was ultimately shattered. ( FYI, I chucked them out eventually. :))

I've read re-minisce's prose for quite a while now. His entries about a certain female from his past are some of his best, and not unlike what my ex once penned. This, I suppose, is the only parallel I draw between you two, but it somehow made me think there'd also be a physical resemblance, which there isn't. Which, I repeat, is a good thing. :P

Funny how Urgh and its various hybrids have a habit of showing up whenever I say something unflattering about the ex. Hmmm...

Here's something funny the ER nurses told me the other night.
Nasty NSboy to my ER chief : I DEMAND to speak to your supervisor!


Sunday, March 28, 2004

Yo, Xena!

Sorry about the hollering. I just realized I won't be checking my email tomorrow as I'm off ( my first rest-day in 3 weeks, ugh ), so please liaise with re-minisce about the meetup. I'll be back online on Tuesday night, when I do another 9-8 shift.

What's a Valkyrie?

Okay, my vocab isn't as powerful as re-minisce's, I see. So I checked with Google, and came up with this. Err, should I feel flattered? No wonder he expected me to be taller ( even though most Singaporean women are around the 1.65m mark ). Oh by the way, the "good thing you don't look like my ex" is meant as a compliment. :)

More On The Complaint Letter

It sits unanswered in my pigeonhole -- though it mysteriously translocated to the one above mine sometime yesterday, before I found it and transferred it back where it belongs. Anyway, my department MOs love to share stories about complaints we receive, so it doesn't matter if such documents end up in the wrong slot. If there's anyone who can offer empathy, it's a fellow MO.

Reading through it - again - during my last night shift, this sentence jumped right out at me: "Complainant claims the doctor only lifted the patient's blouse", ie. I only eyeballed the lady, and didn't touch her. Right, so I documented a "soft, non-tender abdomen", which either means I DID feel her tummy, or that I completely fabricated the findings. Remember the Forum letters last month, especially the one regarding SGH? The patient's son's account was totally different from the doctor's documentation, just as it is now. Funny how a measly $65 can make someone so severely myopic. And untruthful.

Lots of news in the Sunday Times today -- Catholic priest scandal, Heartland Sugar-Daddy exploits, Steve Chia email interview, and for the cherry-on-top, a transvestite on the front page of the Life! section. Who needs The New Paper when we have The Straits Times eh?

On the way to work, I had my radio tuned to Power 98, and overheard the DJ reading a list of Top 10 professions men find sexy in women. Included were "teacher" and "actress". Doctors and nurses were at #2, just a spot below models, can you believe it? Who the heck compiles these things? Totally wrong lah.

Then the DJ talked a bit about physical attributes, which got me pondering a bit ( what else can one do while driving, right? ). So my thankfully short list is as follows ( in no particular order ):

1. Physique: as long as he isn't fat, I'm happy.
2. Height: as long as he isn't shorter than I am, it's okay.
3. Hands: There's something about short, stubby fingers which I find extremely hard to accept. So yes, long and slender digits get my vote. Also helps if the guy uses those hands to good effect, ie. if he's an artist, a surgeon, a musician, or all three. :)

I'm not exactly a "face" person. If you're good-looking, I can certainly appreciate it, but if you're not, but have what I like in terms of 1, 2 and 3, plus intellect and personality, then I'm hooked. My ex wasn't handsome at all. To expound on Xena's assessment, he was bookish, pallid ( his own words, mind you ) and scrawny. If he'd been faithful as well, I may be married with 2 kids by now.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention #4 -- Voice / Manner of Speaking. Quite a big factor for me, though I don't really know why. I can't describe what it is exactly, but for a taste, I greatly enjoy listening to actors Kevin Spacey, Kevin Kline and John Malkovich. To date, my ex has one of the nicest pipes I've ever heard. A doctor-turned-SIA pilot friend does too. As well as -- get ready -- re-minisce. ;)

Be-Urgh: enough fuel for your little bonfire? :P

We will resume normal programming after "someone" has returned to London.

Friday, March 26, 2004

The Night's Still Young

After a year-long posting in CGH A&E, I can tell you with 100% confidence that the crowd will come only after 12am. Which is why I'm going to write this entry now before I get swamped with who-knows-what later. And just for fun, let's guess what I'll see tonight, shall we? My bets are on:

(1) NS boys who'd like an MC for Saturday, so they can have a long weekend off.
(2) NS boys who went out partying and got bashed up, or are suffering from some alcohol-related gastrointestinal symptom ( e.g. vomiting usually ).
(3) assault cases, often alcohol-induced.
(4) other acts of violence ( rioting / gang fights is pretty hot in the East, I notice ).
(5) a whole school of teenage glue-sniffers nabbed in a police raid then hauled here for blood toulene levels.
(6) traumas from drunk driving, bar fights and what-not.
(7) the occasional middle-of-the-night asthma / COLD attack, myocardial infarct, drug overdose and food poisoning.

Hmm, looks like the typical day shift attendees, but with only 3 MOs and 1 senior running the entire show with little sleep and lots of extra stress. And people ask why I love the ER so much. :)

So a few readers are asking: Have I met re-minisce yet?The answer is yes, but seeing that he didn't say anything about the meeting on his blog, I shall follow suit, which will no doubt drive many people up a wall, which is fine with both of us. :D I will say this though: I always had this impression that he'd look a bit like my ex -- but he doesn't, which is a good thing. ;)

Just saw a 75-year-old lady with classical signs and symptoms of either carcinoma of the pancreas or the ampulla of Vater. Obstructive jaundice, marked loss of weight, with a gigantic non-tender gallbladder ( Courvoisier's law ). Very sweet woman, accompanied by an equally pleasant daughter-in-law. During my years in the medical profession, I've noticed how some of the nicest people tend to get the worst diseases ( just had a middle-aged guy with psoriasis and gout in my consult room, who treated me with so much respect I started to feel embarrassed ). No wonder 6 months in haematology back in 2001 almost induced an emotional breakdown. Hats off to haematologists and oncologists everywhere.

It's only 10:45pm...

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Get This...

The complaint letter popped up in my pigeonhole today. Remember the lady with the colostomy? Her daughter made noise with the admin department after I refused to budge, so now I have to write a formal explanation.

Points raised are similar to what she said in my room last night, but here's something I didn't realize: the daughter who returned asking for the consultation fee to be waived is DIFFERENT from the one who actually came with the patient . Am I the only one who finds this odd, albeit in a suspicious way?

And the letter continues: "Complainant says maid ( who was present during consultation ) can be a "witness" ( I assume to the "fact" that I "didn't examine" the patient )". Sorry, I find that a little "dubious".

Anyway, I'll deal with the issue later. ( Bet Urgh's mood just went up a notch, heh :))

Night shift yet again! But I'm on with very nice, competent people, and it's a pretty quiet period, so I'm quite happy. Wish I didn't have to keep missing American Idol though. Looks like this week's theme is "country music". Did Michael Buble guest judge?

Song List March 23

Had a hectic day. Went to Ikea to finalize all the furnishings, and that place is just absolutely awesome! It ranks as No. 2 on my list of mind-boggling shopping areas in Singapore ( the first being Takashimaya, which I visit at least twice a month -- though mostly to eat, walk around and buy presents rather than to shop for myself :P ). Our interior decorating consultant, Evelyn, is such a nice person. Very patient, has good taste, even pushed a trolley around the basement to help us pick out quilt covers, bedsheets and cushions. Her layout design is nothing short of amazing. I was a little worried about not having enough storage space, since the unit is quite small, but she managed to utilize all the available space, and even came up with her own mix-and-match combos for the TV consoles. Extremely impressive.
We've still got a ways to go -- lights, curtains, arranging when to deliver and fix everything. I was so tired when I got home this afternoon I just zonked out on the bed for 2 hours ( even had to go grocery shopping after the Ikea visit ). Then tomorrow, it's cleaning time for the condo, followed by a get-together with a small group of medical friends. Better take more vitamin supplements. :)

At least something perked me up lots today! I got my copy of Clay Aiken's The Way / Solitaire single in the mail, thanks to friends at the local fan club. In a word, Solitaire just struck me speechless. I played it on the way to the hospital, and it's just... absolutely...unbelievable. The range, that mind-blowing voice, all that raw emotion! My favourite song on Measure of a Man is the title track, and for fav cover, Bridge Over Troubled Water hands down -- till now. Clay's Solitaire has eclipsed The Carpenters' original, and Neil Sedaka himself already termed it "forever a Clay Aiken song". If you think his recent AI3 performance is a good gauge, I say "You ain't heard nothin' yet!". The CD recording is more than 5 whole minutes long, which works out to 4 repeats each for my journey to and from work. :P It's just beautiful beyond words. I've run out of vocabulary, sorry. :D
Anyhow, I hear the shops are already selling out fast. Grab your copy quickly!

And in keeping with my recent habit of linking to interesting stories in The Straits Times, here's my pick for today:

Catholic Priest's $5.1 million Scandal

My view? If he was truly "investing for the church", he could've at least done so using a separate, more official bank account, instead of his own. I mean, that's what I would've done.

No comment about his relationship with the 2 women. So obvious it's practically self-explanatory.

Time to see yet another patient. They're all showing up past midnight, sheesh.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

I'm Officially Drooling

People in my department have been "selling" this product to me all week, and I've been converted!

The Object of my Desire

I saw 2 versions "in the flesh", and can't wait to try it out someday soon, perhaps at the showroom in Wheelock Place. I need to upgrade from my chunky Dell laptop, with it many different detachable drives and tendency to hang these past few months. It wasn't cheap either *grumble grumble*.

Oh well, I now know what USB ports, fire wires and DVD writers are. Really cool contraption, this! But won't be buying one till after my Part 2 exam. Will need a simple ( ie. cheap, heh heh ) digital camera as well, for collecting interesting pictures of X-rays, ECGs, patients, etc. Must start saving...

Re-minisce is due home anytime now. Have a safe trip! See you soon. :)


I thought there wouldn't be anything work-related to write about today, but I was just proven wrong.

Old lady from nursing home with a colostomy post laparotomy for intestinal obstruction. Op performed years ago, and patient known to have constipation on and off. Brought in by daughter this morning for zero colostomy output for a day, but no vomiting or abdominal pain.

Just prior to entering my consultation room, the patient suddenly passes a large amount of green stool into the colostomy bag. Everyone's happy, including myself. Her abdomen is soft and non-tender ( I definitely palpated it ). Even her daughter is relieved and gladly takes her back to the nursing home.

At 1440hrs, the daughter returns. Without even knocking, she opens the door, sees that no-one's around, sits down next to me, and starts talking non-stop ( in Mandarin ).
"You know you saw my mom this morning? I had to pay $65, and nothing was actually done for her, which is unreasonable . You didn't even look at her, no medicine was prescribed..." before I ask her to "Wait! Can you give me your mother's IC number please?"

I remember the case easily after a check with the computer records.
The daughter continues.
"You didn't even touch her," she insists.
Was she dreaming?! "Of course I touched her. I EXAMINED her abdomen, don't you remember?"
"No, you just looked at her only what. $65 just like that? My family thinks it's unreasonable ."
"Look," I speak as calmly as I can, "if cost is such a concern, you could've brought her to the polyclinic or a private GP."
"But the nursing home told me to bring her here , because her medical records are in this hospital."
"Right, and may I remind you that I did examine your mother. I didn't prescribe any medication because she passed motion herself, and is already on laxatives from her surgeon." All of which I explained earlier, yeesh.
"But it isn't fair, blah blah blah."

I finally just keep quiet and stare at her in silence. Every time she argues, hoping I'll defend myself, I just nod, then another bout of... nothing. Does she expect me to cancel the consultation fee? Sorry, we only do that for very special cases. Before she left, I did tell her to bring her mother to the polyclinic or GP the next time something crops up.

What are the odds that this family making a ruckus over $65 for their mother's health owns handphones, computers and other gadgets that cost thousands of dollars? Bet they couldn't care less about that. :/

Monday, March 22, 2004

I didn't post anything yesterday because my grand total for the 8-4 shift ( on a Sunday, mind you ) was FIFTY . This is absolutely crazy... Was so tired I couldn't attend my friend's wedding dinner. Very sorry about that.

Monday morning has turned out to be better, believe it or not. Looks as if the locals are pre-empting their Monday blues by coming for MCs the day before the work-week starts, so they can sleep in and call in sick.

The abuse of ERs can't be something uniquely Singaporean, right? Other medical blogs I've visited complain about this too, whether it's the US or UK. What we need to do is raise the fees from the current $65-$80 to a whopping $200. And give the doctors the right to refuse to let certain patients utilize their CSC cards. Evil, yes, but I'm sure the government will thank us for helping them save money. Isn't that what politics is all about? But don't worry, something as sensitive as this will never happen. We'll just end up spending more time arguing with patients than actually treating them. Sigh... Oh well, there's always the cocked eyebrow with a subtle frown, followed by an uncomfortable silence, and some exaggerated exhaling on my part. :)

The conspiracy theory concerning Taiwan's new President is running amok. What do you make of that publicity shot of Chen Shui-bian getting stitched up? Looks pretty authentic to me, but I'd much prefer a live action video clip, close-up, in order to make proper judgement. Ah, Taiwan is always such wonderful news fodder. :D

And speaking of news fodder, check out this full-page article in the Home section of The Straits Times today, an excerpt of which is at this link:

Singaporean Men Flock To Batam

No wonder AIDS cases are on the rise here. One guy even claims his wife and daughter support his Batam visits, and know all about his Indonesian girlfriend, who's only 17 years old. The guy's age? 68. *shudder*

And in other news, Singapore's stepping up its security measures on MRT trains, no doubt prompted by the recent Madrid bombings which involved innocent-looking satchels stuffed with explosives left on commuter rail services.

Marshals on MRTs

Time magazine's March 22 issue has an editorial by Richard C. Clarke titled "The New Terrorist Threat". The following sentences put a new light on the current war against terror attacks:

"... in addition to placing more cameras on our train platforms, maybe we should be asking why the terrorists hate us. If we do not focus on the reasons for terrorism as well as the terrorists, the body searches accepted at airports may be only the beginning of life in our new fortress."

Singapore Airlines is featured in Time as well, with a glowing review of the long-haul flight between our nation and Los Angeles. I'm a horrible air-traveller, but reading the journalist's article made me actually WANT to get my butt on the plane. Hope I'll get a chance to do so in the near future. Am making my way through Europe for my next holiday. :)

Last but not least, here's something you should check out. If not for its writing, then DEFINITELY for its pictures.

The WetAss Chronicles

I'm starting to get a headache. Will take my leave early.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

This has GOT to be the first time a police officer has ever annoyed me.

The incompetence of the police post near my old place doesn't count, of course. But that's in the past.

About half an hour ago, 2 officers brought in a lady who allegedly tried to kill herself by walking into oncoming traffic. She has depression and is on follow-up with a psychiatrist at NUH. She admits to suicidal intent, and told me she repeatedly told the officers to take her there instead of CGH, since it makes sense in view of her history. Of course, her request went unheeded. The form even stated "for psychiatric assessment" in black and white. I then told the staff sergeant-in-charge that if they want such an assessment, they have to take her to either IMH or NUH, as she will need admission and her doctor is at the latter anyhow. I typed up a memo and they left. No problem, right?

Wrong. The sergeant then returns and asks me to sign the form, saying they will take her back to the station then release her, and let her go to NUH on her own .
"Huh?" I said. "What if she kills herself AFTER you release her? She needs to be admitted, which is why you should bring her to NUH immediately ."
"Don't worry. Just sign the form and we'll handle the rest," replies the officer. I'm beginning to get suspicious.
"Well, your form states very clearly that you brought her here for a "psychiatric assessment", which wasn't performed. So I can't sign this."
The sergeant then whips out his pen and CANCELS THESE THREE WORDS. He looks miffed, and I'm momentarily stunned ( doesn't happen often, but it did this time ).
"Wait here," I say. Short walk to the resus room to consult my registrar, who then comes back with me, and deems it appropriate to sign the form, but with documentation of specific instructions regarding the NUH referral. I ignore the sergeant for the rest of the consultation, and painstakingly write everything down in the patient's computerized medical records. They'd better not implicate me if something bad happens to this poor lady.

I'm in consult this Saturday afternoon, with the consolation of at least getting some money for being stuck here on the weekend ( doing morning tomorrow, ugh ). Emergency medicine is fun, but not when you're a junior handling coughs and colds, or pesky NS boys and a whole string of glue sniffers and assault cases ( especially at 2am in the morning when you're flying solo ). Seniors get all the excitement, or more importantly, warranted, true emergencies. Hopefully I can get promoted soon...

Taiwan Election Day

Received news of President Chen Shui-Bian's gunshot wound last night after my shift, and looks like he's none the worse for it. Lucky bloke. :)

Taiwan's Chen casts vote day after being shot

Read about him in a recent issue of Time magazine, which painted him as quite the ideal politician, and strongly pro-independence. If you've watched Taiwanese parliament in action on TV before, you'd know about all the insult-hurling, punch-throwing and chair-smashing. Makes for such compelling footage that I actually saw these scenes on an episode of "World's Most Amazing Videos", heh heh. :D Gotta admire their passion. Singapore parliament is so dull in comparison -- each member waiting his/her turn to drone on and on for half an hour or more. We need to inject more life into local politics. You know, something along the lines of taking nude pictures of yourself in a waterfall. ;)

A quick check with ChannelNewsAsia during dinner in the staff pantry shows a neck-and-neck race in the polls. A nurse commented that President Chen's "assassination attempt" sounds a bit fishy. All I can say is, either the sniper is a lousy shot, or it was indeed staged. Which assassin aims for the abdomen??! Take a cue from the JFK incident -- that guy went straight for the head. Publicity stunt? Quite possible. Trust the Taiwanese to make all our lives a little bit more interesting. :P

Friday, March 19, 2004

I Miss NZ Part 2

Seems writing about it in my blog didn't help that much, haha!

Secret Garden's concert was really good, though nowhere near the best shows I've ever attended so far ( e.g. Robbie Williams, The Ten Tenors, Michael Jackson ). They definitely sound better on their albums, perhaps because they have the benefit of an actual full orchestra for backup, as opposed to a 6-piece band and some synthesizers on-stage.

The Esplanade Concert Hall was almost fully packed, mostly yuppies and people in their 40s and 50s. Met a fellow ex-clinical group mate and his girlfriend. I think I last saw him about 4 years ago, but he still looks the same. Catching up was nice, and he also asked me about the LOTR tour article in Sensory. Says he will definitely join Wellington Rover when he goes to NZ, hopefully at the end of this year. :)

Anyway, back to the show. The first half was rather slow, as they played songs that aren't familiar to most of us. It only started to pick up near the end of the first hour, when a pixie-faced Irish lass ( I can't spell her name, but it sounded like "Seersha" ) joined them, plucking a harp and wowing us all with her beautiful, surreal voice. She later sang the lead for "Nocturne", and sounds just as wonderful as the CD version, in case you'd like to know exactly what I'm talking about. I especially love the piece "Green Waves", a whimsical and haunting melody about missing home. For me, it brought back such vivid images of NZ, with its awesome mountain ranges and massive lakes. This young lady's vocals have a very ethereal, pure quality to them, and in my opinion, puts Enya to shame. Let HER sing "May It Be" from The Fellowship of the Ring! She'll do a much better job with it!

Fionnuala Sherry, the blonde-curled violinist, kept audiences awake with her skill and mini-jigs, prancing around the stage like a frisky pony ( that's a compliment, by the way. She didn't look young but has a lithe figure and agile moves. :)). She also did most of the talking, giving short intros for certain songs, like "Hymn To Hope", which is dedicated to victims of the Columbine school shooting, and "Nocturne", which clinched them the trophy in the Eurovision contest 10 years ago, catapulting them to international stardom.

The highlight of the evening was obviously "You Raise Me Up", an uplifting song about "a higher power", regardless of your religion. When composer / pianist Rolf Lovland mentioned Josh Groban ( who did a cover version with the pair ), a very audible murmur emanated from the audience, as I'm sure everyone knows who THAT is! :) The piece was done by "Seersha" instead, and a female voice certainly made for an interesting few minutes. Still, YRMU is clearly tailor-made for Josh's rich, deep vocals.

The evening culminated in a thumping finale, thanks to the synthesizers taking centrestage, adding much oomph to an otherwise acoustic sound. "Nocturne" ( one of the encore songs ) sounded breath-taking, and the entire hall reverberated with a full "string section", ie. pre-recorded album cuts that were cleverly incorporated into the live performance. The finale is a piece that I don't know, but again, the sound effects were amazing, and had everyone on their feet. Rolf graciously handed his bouquet of flowers to a lady in the front row ( Fionnuala already had one of her own ), and promptly received a hug and two appreciative kisses on the cheeks.

It was indeed quite a magical night, and I'd just like to mention that the lighting is quite spectacular -- I've never seen rainbow-coloured spotlights before! Secret Garden is a very warm, friendly bunch ( the band members love to shake to the music as well, really cute ), and their message of peace and universal tolerance and love is one that we can aspire to. Bravo!

Maybe it's a coincidence, but there was a feature on Josh Groban in Life! today. Here's the link:

Josh In The Straits Times

Important sentence! -- "Next up is Asia, where he plans to perform around October this year." WOOHOO!!! :D

Clay Aiken On American Idol 3

Please tell me you caught it, or I'll give you a lecture. :P I watched the recording after I got home last night, and all I can say is "Wow, WOW, WOOOOW!" First, he looked really terrific ( turtle-neck sweater, cool suit, super-spiky hair ), was all smiles as always, and nailed Solitaire. And I mean, NAILED IT. Glory note and everything! He has never sounded better!
His The Way / Solitaire CD single has been officially released in Singapore, though I won't be able to collect it till next week. Neil Sedaka must be so proud. :)

As for the AI3 finalists, I've changed my list of favourites. They are currently:

Jon Peter Lewis
George Huff
Diana Demargo
Jasmine Trias
LaToya London

Jon Peter now has an actual nickname, though nothing fancy -- just a simple JPL. He's extremely sweet, and said he originally wanted to be a paediatrician, 'cos he "likes kids a lot". Awwww. His family seems like such a fun-loving, warm-hearted group, and yes, he did a rousing cover of "Drift Away". Simon Cowell even called him "the dark horse to win this competition". I'm rooting for him all the way -- I picked Clay last year and turned out to be right, so let's see what happens this time. :)

George has a lovable persona and a great voice. How great? If he'd been in AI2 and squared off with Clay and Ruben, Ruben wouldn't have made it to the top 2. THAT'S how great. :)

Diana is 16 years old, but has lungs that defy all laws of physics. :D Powerhouse with a capital P. Amy Adams, aka the Celine Dion wannabe, faltered badly and was in the bottom three, but may redeem herself later on. Hard to say at this point, but Diana is one tough cookie to beat.

Jasmine, all of 17, is another major contender. Beautiful smile, gorgeous voice, while LaToya is consistent and classy.

John Stevens has something , but can't seem to find ways to capitalize on it. I think his main drawback is his age and inexperience, which hinder his ability to interprete non-jazz songs and make them sound good. His vocals aren't the problem. I feel that perhaps he's too nervous and shy to really let it all hang out, world be damned, you know? He loosens up so nicely in the group performances, so I hope America will keep him for another few weeks and let him have the chance to shine.

Matt Rogers is a crowd pleaser, but vocals-wise, he needs to choose material that can help show that off a little more. Loved his rendition of "Hard To Handle" though, complete with cheeky winks and lotsa grooooovin'. :D

No, I haven't forgotten Fantasia. She definitely has "it", but I wonder if American Idol is the right place for her. My eyebrows were raised when I found out she's a 19-year-old single mother of a 2-year-old girl. Even stranger is the fact that she's a devout Christian and her grandmother's a pastor. I found that all a bit odd, but far be it from me to judge her lah. People make mistakes. It's only human, though certain mistakes are more forgiveable than others, of course. ;) I just worry that her prominence in this competition will make her a less-than-ideal role model for the youngsters. What if they think single motherhood is okay, just because Fantasia is cool? What will she decide to do with her family situation? Will she play it down and avoid the issue, or speak up and caution others against it? Or worst of all, will she say it's okay to be an unmarried parent? If it's the latter, I won't like it one bit. Call me conservative, but there have got to be limits somewhere.

Anyhow, I'm relieved that Bulgarian wailer Leah has been booted off. I was worried that she'd be another Carmen Rasmussen -- the pretty blondie with the, er, weird voice on AI2. This year's group of finalists is excellent. It's gonna be a close race.

Whoa, long post. :) Shall end off with a short account of a case that came to our ER on Thursday morning. I didn't see him, but my fellow MO and the consultant-on-call did, and it effectively illustrates the term "What a waste".

21-year-old guy, drives a nice car, had more than $3000 in cash in his pocket. Intoxicated yet got behind the wheel, girlfriend in tow. Crashed into a tree, mortally wounded, died shortly after arriving in the ER. Girlfriend survived. Family devastated. Girlfriend sobbing in the minor operating theatre, with only a superficial laceration to the scalp. Both smelled strongly of alcohol.
During such times, I always ask one question: WHY???

Thanks for reading. Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


First, Clay Aiken's The Way video failed to appear on MTVAsia tonight, thanks to a very strange "special repeat telecast" of the embarrassing MTVAsia Awards 2004 ( those Cupids still give me nightmares ). I have no idea if they'll screen the TRL episode in question tomorrow night, or skip it altogether for some reason. What gives?

Second, I'm on night shift - again. The same night as "CSI" and the first round of the AI3 finals too, aargh! Looks like I'll have to read recaps off the Net. Won't have any time to watch the recording tomorrow.

Something upbeat for all the docs out there. Got this email from a non-medical reader regarding the latest SMA News issue, and he had this to say (after all my complaining in the "Alternative Roles For ER Physicians" piece :)):

"Well Dr. Oh, I for one still have the utmost respect and trust for doctors because to me, you are all doing God's work of easing the suffering of mankind and that is a noble cause!"

On behalf of the medical community of Singapore, which gets blasted regularly by the press, and even more frequently by patients and their unreasonable relatives, we thank you. Also, please help spread the word. :)

A fellow doc who locums in my department asked about my Sensory LOTR tours article, so now I'm feeling very sad 'cos I miss NZ a lot . It's a pretty slow night so far, so don't mind if I just talk about my favourite place for a bit.

Queenstown, South Island

Words can't really do it justice, so get ready for a whole list of links.

Destination Queenstown Guide

Queenstown Photo Gallery

When I first arrived, its beauty literally took my breath away. It was summertime, so the place was swarming with tourists and native Kiwis who'd dropped by for some R&R. Queenstown is very pretty -- quaint and bohemian, boasting a vibrant nightlife, terrific restaurants, excellent hotels, a gorgeous jetty surrounded by The Remarkables mountain ranges, lovely people, and of course, its star attraction: the huge, sparkling Lake Wakatipu.

My parents and I stayed at the Lakefront Copthorne, which believe it or not, is only a few minutes' stroll away from the water's edge. No fences or barricades, mind you, so one afternoon, following an exhilarating jet boat ride down Dart River, I had some free time to grab an apple and my journal, then walk to the lake and sit only inches away from the lapping waves, munching away and scribbling in my diary. Later, I took my slippers off to dip my feet in the icy cool water. To my left were The Remarkables, looking almost surreal in their magnificence. The TSS Earnslaw, an old red-and-white steamboat, chugged along in the distance, while a parasailor glided past. It was peaceful and quiet, the weather perfect, and I couldn't remember the last time I'd been so happy. Honestly. I still dream of that afternoon sometimes. It sure helps when I'm faced with 40 patients, 30 of whom are NS boys or people with conditions that don't warrant a visit to the ER.

Food-wise, try Beach Street, which houses lots of Asian restaurants. The Mall, a lovely al fresco stretch, has many Italian outlets that serve gigantic portions of steak and lamb ( didn't try those, but my eyes almost popped out when I saw what the patrons were eating ). Then there's The Pig & Whistle, a very jolly Irish pub that's packed with revellers every single night. The boat jetty is perfect for post-dinner walks. I personally greatly enjoyed feeding the many ducks and geese. They're very tame, so they'll come right up to you and daintily pick pieces of bread from your fingers. Another activity I loved was eating Tip Top ice-cream while standing at the jetty and just taking in the scenery. Nothing more perfect than that! :D

Outskirts of Queenstown

1. Glenorchy

Check out this website.

This is where Dart River is located. I wrote about this in the Sensory magazine, and still get a rush just thinking about it! Amazing beyond belief, and yes, it features film locations for the LOTR trilogy. A must if you're a fan, and even better if you like high-powered jet boat rides and cheeky boat drivers. :)

2. Fiordland

Click on this link!

We took a full-day tour ( 12 hours! ) through the majestic Fiordland National Park, en route to Milford Sound. In a nutshell, it's just fantastic from start to finish! If only I could post my photos online! Picture shimmering rivers, lush greenery, snow-capped mountains, clear blue skies, a thundering waterfall ensconced in a forest, snow from a glacier piled next to the road ( which the coach drivers let you scoop up )... the list is endless.

Then there's the Milford Sound.

I suspect the various tour companies deliberately keep the really spectacular pictures off the Internet, 'cos what I saw for myself is so much better. The 2-hour ferry ride is guaranteed to thrill, whether a result of the breath-taking surroundings, the gigantic waterfall ( which the ferry will ease up to so everyone gets sprayed ), the sun-bathing wild fur seals, or simply standing on the top deck and almost getting blown off by the strong winds. The picture of myself which I submitted to Sensory was taken on one of the lower decks, but you can still see my hair flying all over the place. Gorgeous place, the Milford Sound.

Sigh. All this reminiscing has made me realize I'm back in Singapore, sitting in a freezing ER at 3am in the morning. :( But I'll always have my memories of NZ, with its unparalleled beauty, wonderful people, and mouth-watering cuisines. More updates another day. Time for me to get a cup of Milo then take a short nap. :)

P.S. Just saw the song list for last night's AI3 episode. Am tempted to watch the show after my night shift, but I can't! Need to sleep, 'cos my afternoon's going to be packed with errands, followed by the concert in the evening. Oh well. Important reminder: Clay will appear on tonight's results show to sing Solitaire. Something no-one should ever miss! :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

90 minutes more before my shift ends, and there's a big possibility I'll hit 40 cases before going home. Sigh... Since when has Tuesday been NS-boy-with-nonsensical-complaints Day? Saw one with knee pain for 2 years !!!??? And a whole lot of coughs and colds, a few of whom tried to pull fast ones on me by insisting they have no camp MOs -- totally bogus, for your info. One even said his camp MO told him to go to the hospital to get the MC, 'cos certs from polyclinics and GPs won't be entertained. His symptoms? "Feeling tired", coupled with an over-protective mother who seemed more unwell than the patient himself. She's a nice lady, but the boy is so obviously spoiled rotten. Taking Panadeine and claims his headache is killing him, yet refuses admission. Looks perfectly normal. Aaarrrghghghghgh! *pulls hair out* Thank goodness a fellow A&E MO ( my year-mate from med school ) came over to give a short lecture, 'cos my friend was indeed a "camp MO" when he served in the army, and knows all the NS boys' tricks. Trying to exploit an ignorant female, eh? Big mistake. ( Bet the guys call me foul names after leaving the room, but oh well. :))

On to happier things.
Clay Aiken will be singing his latest single, Solitaire, on this week's episode of "American Idol 3". I don't know whether it'll be the first night or the results show, but have your VCRs ready, 'cos the word on the Net is that it's a phenomenal cover. :) BMG Singapore will receive copies later this week, and I've got mine reserved, thanks to the Clay Aiken Singapore fan club. His new video for The Way will also be shown on MTVAsia either today or tomorrow, according to friends who are following the TRL programme. This screens from 8-9pm daily, so watch for it.

Then of course, Michael Buble is rumoured to appear next week, which I'm looking forward to. However, he seems a little new to the music scene to be picked as a judge. Thought they usually choose veterans?

2 more days till the Secret Garden performance at the Esplanade. Have been playing their Songs From A Secret Garden CD in my car. Absolutely beautiful. Will review it the day after. :)

Saw yet another young borderline hypochondriac. People can be so hypersensitive about their health sometimes... Hope I'll see less of these once I turn registrar. Tak boleh tahan.

Monday, March 15, 2004

It's 3am, mid-way through my night shift, and I'm officially miffed. The past 5 1/2 hours were perfectly okay, but in the past 30 minutes, I saw 2 cases who caused me a LOT of irritation.

Case #1: Indian male who's drunk, arrested for disorderly behaviour and brought in for blood alcohol levels. Very confrontational to the point of police officers not thinking it advisable to uncuff him for venepuncture. Before he's taken away, he lets loose on me ( apparently because I missed on the first try when poking him, but he was wiggling like crazy, which didn't make it easy ), saying, "I'll come look for you (someday)." in a menacing tone. Where the heck did THAT come from?! If anything does happen to me, here's a nice juicy suspect for you.

Case #2: Came right after Case #1, yeesh. Husband and wife. Wife having food poisoning, slumped in the wheelchair, refuses to open her eyes, mumbles when questioned. Husband not happy that he had to wait a total of 15 minutes , while I was sorting out a string of police cases ( 5 in total, including Case #1 ). When he walks in, I ask what happened, to which his reply is a rude "Look at her!" He then keeps quiet and gives me the "you should be able to tell just by eyeballing my wife" expression, which I don't get very often, I admit, but dredges up all sorts of horrible memories when it does happen. I set a plug for her quickly and shoo her off to observation. She'll most likely recover, but I don't expect any thank-you's from these two.

The nurses tell me that earlier this evening, a little girl was brought in for drowning. She didn't make it, and seems she lives just across the road from CGH. Her parents took it well, unlike some relatives who wail and turn violent. I've never been directly involved with a paediatric death. Even when I was in the paediatric oncology ward back in my houseman year, the kids in my care somehow stayed alive. I guess most of the deaths occurred in the intensive care unit, which had only medical officers and other more senior doctors in charge. I may have to deal with such cases when I go to KKH Children's A&E next. Not looking forward to it.

I've discovered how important sleep is to me. Snoozed as much as I could today, and still feel tired. Most doctors I've met agree that if they had to choose between sleep and food, they'd pick sleep anyday. My mom, however, disagrees, so she wakes me up to eat my 3 meals, whether I'm able to get out of bed or not ( I usually get up, mostly 'cos she cooks really well :)). I don't know how married couples with kids in my profession do it. I can't even muster the energy to play with my cat, let alone care for a husband and a child.

Just watched this week's episode of "C.S.I.", and wanted to talk about it a little 'cos it's my favourite so far, and extremely bizarre. The premise was that of a murder involving a man dressed in a meticulously hand-sewn raccoon suit, which later led the CSI team to a convention where lots of people dress up in animal costumes and partake in really weird activities, one of which is a "fur pile", complete with "scritching" and "yiffing". You can find out what yiffing means on Google. Can't tell you what it is here or I'll be accused of being obscene. :P

Anyhow, it was a real eye-opener filled with witty one-liners. E.g. "So we have to ask the perennial question: Why did the man dressed in a raccoon suit cross the road?", and "Shot then hit by a car. Bad day -- even for a raccoon." Well, it's funnier when you actually watch it. :D

Time for me to get some shuteye. Good night.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Awashed With Relief

The course is over, woohoo! It's been a tiring week, but also very enriching and totally enjoyable. And yes, my Oxford Handbook of Emergency Medicine now bears Dr. Robin Illingworth's autograph. As Gollum would say, "My precioussssss..." :)

One thing I noticed about the A&E exam format is how diverse emergency medicine truly is. I mean, in the vivas and clinicals, we can face anything from medical to surgical / orthopaedic to paediatric cases, and are expected to discuss a broad spectrum of conditions in pretty great detail, including obscure things such as luxatio erecta ( go look it up :)). This is in contrast to your conventional internal med / surgical exams, where you sorta know what to expect going in. For us, examining an abdomen can be anything from an enlarged inflamed gallbladder ( surgical ) to a uterine fibroid ( OBGYN ) to polycystic kidneys ( medical ). Quite scary if you think about it!

One of the reasons I enjoy emergency medicine so much is because of the diverse mixture of cases, and how we use concise history-taking and a quick but directed physical examintion, +/- simple yet carefully ordered tests to delineate the patient's problem(s) and decide on disposition ASAP. It's a tough task, and the ER is always hectic, so seniors often have their hands full with a few cases at any one time, with junior docs coming over to ask them questions or show them X-rays. I'm a little daunted by the prospect of turning registrar, but it's an unavoidable rite of passage, so I'll make sure I'm prepared for it. Must always remember not to lose my temper. :)

And speaking of multi-tasking, a few hours ago I had a major case of running around when 3 not-so-simple cases came into resus in quick succession. I had an old lady with a scalp laceration and an arterial spurt, a severe asthma, and an 18-year-old thalassemia major / poorly controlled diabetes with clinical signs of meningitis. I just kept going from patient to patient, setting lines, ordering meds, taking cultures, catheterizing, giving antibiotics, tracing blood tests, calling the registrar upstairs to expedite admission. At the end of it all, I just slumped in my chair and hoped I didn't forget anything in the whole mess. I'm really tired right now, which is why I'm a little worried. :)

I heard that 22 people applied for 9 emergency medicine traineeship spots this year. Whoa, that's amazing! Looks like it's gaining popularity, which is good 'cos we need more ER physicians. The best scenario is to have all ERs run purely by trained specialists. You can bet the number of complaint letters will drop drastically if this happens. No more ammo for you, Straits Times! :P

Two of my predictions for American Idol 3 wild card winners turned out to be right -- ie. George Huff and Jon Peter Lewis. The former is such a likeable person, a la Ricky Smith from AI2. Jon, on the other hand, has prompted me to nickname him "spark plug", a term I chose because of his very dynamic personality and on-stage antics. Did you catch him singing Elvis's "A Little Less Conversation"? It's a difficult song to pull off, but he did it effortlessly. Simon may have hated the performance, but Jon garnered the majority of votes from the audience, and became America's Choice for 2004 ( Clay held that title in 2003 ). I predict big things for this little fella. He's the one to watch!

By the way, there're only 4 guys out of the 12 finalists this time round. Kinda pathetic, but they'll definitely give the girls some serious competition. I can't remember any of the females except for Fantasia. And the other 2 wild card choices of Jennifer and Leah are extremely dubious. Leah is the equivalent of Carmen ( from AI2 ) -- young, pretty, has a bit of a voice but can't do anything decent with it. Jennifer might turn out to be another Kim Locke -- not so great to begin with, but later improves and goes far in the competition. Well, we'll just have to see, I guess.

I'll be putting my textbooks aside for the next 6 weeks or so. Will be busy with moving house and running a whole lot of errands, plus attending various meetings / weddings / concerts. I have only 1 more off day for the rest of the month. So sad.

One more hour before midnight. Can't even keep my eyes open, yaaaaawn.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Did You Know?

... that re-minisce put up a profile of himself on his blog? I just saw it, though I can't confirm exactly how long it's been there. Just wanted to share, haha. :)

Was wondering if my own 1-sentence description needs updating. ( I would've made it longer if not for the disclaimer clause, thanks to "people up there" insisting that I include one ). But considering I'll turn 29 this June, it might be time to remove the word "young", no? What's a good substitute? "Ageing"? "Weak"? "Exhausted" is one of my favourites, but I'd like something a little more colourful. Time to whip out my thesaurus. :P

Looking back at my early posts ( from mid-2002 ), I realize how much I've changed in just 2 short years. Some of it is comforting ( e.g. getting baptized ), others good for a laugh ( e.g. my detest for certain members of the press ), and the rest an eye-opening experience ( especially during the SARS epidemic ). I do keep a journal, but entries are made at erratic intervals due to time constraints and bad handwriting that seems to be getting worse by the day. Blogging is indeed one of the best things on the Net.

So here I am, working afternoon shift again following an intensive morning session at the A&E course. Really enjoy the tutorials, but now that we've all gotten to know each other well, meeting up daily is becoming more social rather than formal. The Hong Kongers, especially, make for interesting conversation. Apparently, patients in their home country are extremely nasty and demand all sorts of tests whether you deem them indicated or not. Worse, they routinely yell at doctors and show no respect whatsoever. Who would've thought that Singaporeans are actually quite nice in comparison? ;)

Am wondering what happened on last night's AI3 wild card show. Won't be able to watch it till tomorrow night at this rate. There are rumours that Clay may show up for the results segment. Let me know if this is true! :D
Also, I understand Michael Buble will be judging one of the finals about a fortnight from now. Wowzah! ( Although I hope he's lost all that excess weight he gained. )

Sorry if this entry is a little meandering. I start to ramble when my brain shuts down. Everything's at spinal level right now. Laceration? Stitch. Abscess? Drain. Ischemic heart disease with asthma, now breathless, febrile and complaining of atypical chest pain? Errrrr.... just admit lah! ( Kidding of course. :) Hey, I take my gatekeeper role very seriously! )

5 months before my Part II exam, I'm faced with the choice of which hospital to join after I turn registrar. I was initially torn between two institutions, but recent developments have now swayed me to one in particular. Won't say which on this blog, but despite knowing that I'll have to work really hard, I'm pretty happy with the career opportunities it offers in the long run. Do I currently have an area of special interest? Kinda. It's actually trauma management, +/- disaster medicine. The latter doesn't really apply to the local context, and may require a posting in some disaster-prone foreign country ( which my mother will never allow ). Okay then, trauma alone isn't too bad. Would very much like to join a centre that manages gunshot wounds on a regular basis -- probably for HMDP. My goal in life is to perform a lateral thoracotomy solo. Gimme gimme. :D
I'm also quite keen on the prospect of training ER physicians to do competent bedside ultrasounds, be it for unstable major trauma cases unfit for CT abdomens, pregnant women with suspected threatened abortion, or even biliary colic / suspected cholecystitis. My seniors are already able to screen for fluid in the tummy and pericardial sac, but I wonder if other options will ever materialize? Anything's possible, I say! :)

Aargh, is it only 4:30pm? 6 1/2 more hours to go... *sob*

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Recurring Themes This Week

Exhaustion -- more constant than recurring actually. Just fighting hard to get through the next 4 days of the course, with afternoon shifts in between. Can't be helped, but definitely taking a toll on me. :(

Getting drenched -- Every single day for the past 3 days! Aargh! First at NUH, then TTSH ( parked at the NNI's open carpark, cheap-skate that I am :P ), and today, SGH. Will probably escape a similar fate tomorrow since I'm at CGH ( covered lots, yes! ), but if the weather doesn't hold up, I'll surely get wet again on Friday and Saturday. Terrible lah.

How's the course going, you ask? In a nutshell, I'm enjoying myself thoroughly, even though it comes rather early considering my exam is in August. It's timed this way mainly because our visiting lecturer just attended the local emergency medicine conference last week, and he is none other than Dr. Robin Illingworth from Leeds, whose name is #2 on a list of 5 on the front cover of the Oxford Handbook of Emergency Medicine ( a book I can't function without! ). In person, Dr. Illingworth is an extremely nice man, with a great sense of humour and a very likeable personality. We have 2 doctors from Hong Kong with us as well, and guess what? One of them actually asked Dr. Illingworth to autograph his Oxford handbook! The rest of us have already decided to follow suit on the last day of the course. Wouldn't that be cool. :D

The lectures/ tutorials and mock vivas are a lot of fun, but the clinicals are the best parts, and are conducted by emergency physicians and various doctors from the respective hospitals' medical and surgical departments. Over at NUH, we had a feast of patients, one of whom is a young man with a prosthetic heart valve and classical signs of infective endocarditis. I don't think I'd ever seen splinter haemorrhages or Osler's nodes till that day! And I was pleasantly surprised when the medical registrar / associate consultant ( I'm not too sure which ) told me I "did very well" on this case. The medic in question is none other than Dr. Gerald Chua, someone who's highly respected by many, including myself. Did wonders for my morale, haha! :)

Today, we had Prof. Ng Han Seong and Prof. Ng Keng Yeen from SGH Gastro, both of whom I know from my very first MO posting in their department 4 years ago. We were taken through many fantastic cases, including motor neurone disease, a whopping loud mitral stenosis murmur, and massive polycystic kidneys. Mind-boggling, I tell you!

I'm on 4-12 shift today, and due to return for the next course session tomorrow morning at 8, which gives me little time to rest -- again. I think I broke my personal record for sleep deprivation these past few days. Oh wait, that was in internal med actually. Nothing can ever beat that. ;)

And in non-medical news: I've reserved my copies of Clay's new The Way / Solitaire single, due out next week. Looks as if we'll be getting it on the same day as Americans ( just like we did with Measure of a Man ). Fan club members get priority -- one of the perks of being a part of Clay Aiken Singapore, heh heh. :)

So we met with our "home furnishing consultant" at Ikea yesterday evening. A very pretty and sweet young lady named Evelyn. She's got good taste too, and made some excellent suggestions. Will be seeing her again soon for site measurements at the condo.

Someone told me I have an ability for looking deadpan when I'm actually thrilled about something. Is that so? :P Seems I might've appeared a bit disaffected during the LSO concert. But that's probably because I had to stifle my excitement in accordance with the rest of the crowd. Everyone's so SERIOUS and QUIET and a bit STIFF. I'm not saying people who attend such shows are boring blocks of wood. I just have a hard time being, err, "exuberant" in such settings, know what I mean? I'm the type who screams myself hoarse for Robbie Williams or Michael Buble, even The Ten Tenors. ( Clay Aiken's next if he ever comes to Singapore. :)). But then, I extend my apologies to this person for not being able to stay for drinks after the concert, or else we may have been able to discuss the performance in more detail. Okay, for the record, one of the LSO's (second?) violinists in my direct line of vision is quite memorable -- young, blonde, really handsome fellow ( like a thinner, more youthful version of Guy Ritchie ). Exuberant enough? ;)

I was also asked about good upcoming jazz acts. Unfortunately, my tastes run along a certain line, which many readers are probably fully aware of. :D I emailed the Esplanade staff about Peter Cincotti, and they told me they've forwarded it to the Programme Director to see if arrangements for a concert can be made. Something to look forward to eh? :)

11pm! One more hour to go before I get to call it a day. I've been up since 6am, ack! Really miss my bed...

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Dr. Wong Ting Hway Honoured

Ting Hway, if you read this, congratulations once again! Aiya, why didn't you say anything about this earlier? Only told me you'd be featured in Her World, but nothing more. Okay, can't say this is anything out of character for you either. Always so humble and constantly embarrassed by media coverage. :)

You can read the story here, but hurry, 'cos the link will disappear on Tuesday.

Straits Times Article on Dr. Wong

Ting Hway also contributed to the SMA News' December issue. You can access that via the link on the right, then go to the archives. It's titled "Cold Chains and Hot Spots". Really good. :)

Feeling very sleep-deprived today. 2 night shifts in 4 days, then woke up early to send my mom to church ( my dad was having a bout of gastroenteritis ), then there's the A&E MRCS Part II course which starts tomorrow. Lots of running around all over the island, from NUH to TTSH, SGH, AH and CGH. I don't have any more leave left to claim, so my usual off-days are being used, and even have to work after the course ends on certain afternoons, yikes. Wish me luck. I just hope I don't get sick in the whole process. Very paranoid about that.

Clay's album has hit triple platinum, I hear. Announcement was made at a concert in Washington, and of course, I'm really happy about it. :) Now we're waiting for his next single: The Way / Solitaire. *checks wallet to see if there's any money left :P*

Here's a movie I'd like to recommend to those of you who have a lot of free time and want to watch something that's, um, unconventional. :P It's "The Wisdom of Crocodiles", a title that makes zero sense, and a film that boggles the mind. The only reason I watched it was because of Jude Law -- a really young and scrawny version -- thanks to endless repetitions of scary trailers. I don't want to give the plot away, but be advised that this show isn't for everyone, and I can predict that some of you will doze off or decide to switch channels. I was able to finish it, and frankly speaking, didn't understand it that well, heh. But Law is such a performer -- matinee idol looks but intensely frightening, yet pitiful and sexy all at the same time. Cool. :)

Another good movie to catch on cable -- "Hart's War". Starring Bruce Willis and Colin Farrell ( not to mention Rory Cochrane, my fav from "CSI: Miami" ), this WWII drama isn't straightforward, starting out rather slowly then building to a surprise twist and inspiring finale. Willis remains one of my favourite actors ( post "Hudson Hawk" that is :)), and Farrell is, well, gorgeous and compelling to watch. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Right then, it's time to do more revision. Is there a movie on tonight? Yes, a check with the Starhub Cablevision website shows that "Signs" is on at 9pm ( Channel 58 ) tonight. Good film. But don't forget the million-dollar all-stars "Fear Factor" on AXN Channel 19 at the same time slot. Will have to record that for viewing another day.

And speaking of all-stars, the latest episode of "Survivor" had me scratching my head a little. Sue's "emotional distress" came a little late, and I always thought everyone couldn't care less about Richard Hatch's gratuitous nudity and occasionally disgusting behaviour. Guess I was wrong. Oh well, her departure doesn't really dampen the general mood. I'm rooting for Ethan and Rupert now that Rob C has been ousted.

Okay, back to my books! Have a good Sunday! :)

Friday, March 05, 2004

My New Home

Finally saw the completed condo unit a few hours ago, and all I can say is, "Whoa!". It's bigger than I remembered ( that was the showflat ), and extremely bright, thanks to an unobstructed view of the nearby park. Lots of greenery. :)

I love my bedroom, with its bay window area -- perfect for curling up with some cushions, a Root Beer, my Walk/Discman, and a good book. Got a free microwave complimentary of the developers, so for the first time in my life, I'll have one in the house ( yes, I live in the Stone Age, I know :P ). Is it true you can bake cakes with it? Time to learn some recipes. :D

Living room is full of possibilities, thanks to the gigantic glass window. Very windy, bright yet not too sunny. Kitchen is cozy and well-fitted. Pool is just a few metres away from the lift lobby on the ground floor ( yowzah! ) -- one of a total of 3, not counting the partially submerged playground and jacuzzi. :)

We were shown around the place by a very nice man from the head office, who presented us with 2 boxes of goodies from a famous pastry shop, and a metallic silver case that looks like it's used to store whopping amounts of money ( I'm not joking :)). He told us the grounds look their best at night, when all the lights are switched on. Hmm, will have to hang around one evening ( not really possible with my current roster though, darn ).

Had lunch at the nearby mall, which is 5 minutes' drive from the place. Looks newly renovated compared to the last time I dropped by sometime last year. Thank goodness they're finally doing something about the toilets! Those definitely need remodelling.

My mom's really happy with the apartment, and I can't wait to move in. My dad's leaving the arrangements to us, so he'll shift over once everything's in place. Lots of things to settle, which will take me quite a while since I'm so short of time. But once we're finished moving, I'll be a lot happier, 'cos this'll be my permanent home ( and what a home it is :)).

Housewarming party, anyone? ;)
The Next Clay Aiken?

I was biting my nails during the results show for AI3's Group 4 yesterday, but true to form, Simon Cowell's predictions were spot on, and John Stevens breezed through with the highest number of votes, despite going off-key in a nervous performance the night before. I've liked John since I first laid eyes on him, but can't help feeling that Simon's comparing him with Clay was designed specifically to garner support for the 16-year-old. "If the public puts him through, we'll see ( if he has the potential to be a star like Clay )."
John happens to be a redhead, like Aiken, not to mention really tall ( making Ryan Seacrest looks like a midget ). Sweet demeanour, humble and unassuming -- see the similarities? :)
But voice-wise, John's is a lot deeper. Mellow and soothing, I'd say. But his renditions of famous songs always indicate another layer beneath that dorky teenage exterior. Once he gets over his stage fright, his vocals soar ( like they did after the results were announced and he began to fully relax ). If he can keep this up, he'll reach the top 3 with no problem at all.

Here's his profile:

John Stevens

And my other favourites for the finalists are:



And for the wild card show:

Jon Peter -- has an interest in medicine, woo. :)




Only 4 wild cards will proceed to the finals, and these are my picks. Matthew Metzger ( the Michael Vartan lookalike ) might beat George or Susie, but I don't think his singing will sustain him as far as the top 5.

Okay, that was a nice break from my studying. Nothing better than filling my head with useless information, haha. :D

1st April is a day to look forward to. Saw trailers for "Hidalgo" on cable a few days ago. Hi-what? Here's something for you to stare at:

Hidalgo the movie

Viggo Mortensen as a lead in an action-adventure. Need I say more?! :P

Clay's The Way Video

I haven't seen it yet, but the screen caps are fabulous, and the concept terrific. No sexy gyrating or smooching a la Justin Timberlake and every rap music video I've ever seen. Just depictions of love in its many different forms, from an old couple holding hands to a couple glancing at each other across a table. Awww. :) Waiting for it to hit MTVAsia. Quickly, please!

My last night shift was pretty quiet, except for a collapsed case at 4am in the morning. Likely cardiogenic shock with fulminant pulmonary oedema from a massive myocardial infarct. He was spouting froth from the trachea in huge amounts when I intubated him, and didn't respond to resuscitation. Broke the news to a devastated family. He was only 58.

Then there was the elderly lady in a wheelchair from an old stroke, who was brought in by her very nice daughter, because of a suspected new stroke. Nothing unusual, except for the fact that the patient lived after sustaining a gunshot wound to the chest during the Japanese Occupation. The bullet apparently went right through her. Wow, talk about luck!

Oops, mustn't forget to mention that the latest issue of the SMA News is out online. The link is available on the right within the list, but my miniscule contribution can be viewed here:

Alternative Roles for the ER Physician

This was written during a particularly frustrating time, but like I said before, I love the ER, and can't imagine myself working anywhere else. Happy reading!

I'm on night again today, but will be getting the key to my new home this afternoon. Looking forward to that. :)

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Just an update to inform you that Dave Barry's blog has undergone a minor overhaul, this time to include a very cool comments function, which should be quite interesting, since his site attracts thousands of readers on a daily basis. I've also changed the link under "Laughs Guaranteed!", so you can just click there from now on to go to the new page.

But since this is the first time I'm mentioning it, here's the new address below for your convenience.

Dave Barry's Spanking New Blog

Another edit to slot in a new link ( why didn't I think of this before?! ):

My Favourite Comic Strip -- comes in daily doses too. :)

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Talk about surreal. I just took a short walk to the loo, and passed by the waiting area. EVERYONE there had their eyes glued to the TV, which was screening the latest episode of "American Idol 3". I think John Stevens ( the 16-year-old redhead who sounds like Dean Martin ) was singing. Sounded good, but I couldn't very well stand there and watch now, could I? ( Okay, maybe I could, but it would be a little obvious. Don't want to precipitate another Forum complaint letter either. "Eh, how can a doctor come out of the room and watch TV HAH?" :( )

Anyway, if you're well enough to watch AI3, you don't belong in the hospital ok. :/ Not at this hour at least. After midnight a bit more warranted. Hmph.

No I'm not crabby. Not too sure why my entry sounds the way it does. I had a good day -- if you count mopping house fun. :P Just rewatched Billy Crystal's medley for this year's Oscars, and absolutely love it!

Mystic River -- sung to the tune of Ol' Man River
Lost In Translation / Sofia ( Coppola ) -- Maria from West Side Story
LOTR: The Return of the King -- My Favourite Things from The Sound Of Music ( "Frodo and Sam on a mystical planet / Then Smeagol pops up like the right boob of Janet" -- hahahahahaha! )
Seabiscuit -- Goldfinger ( a James Bond theme )
Master And Commander -- Come Fly With Me

This has got to be one of his best arrangements yet. The others I remember are from maybe 10 years ago, when he did My Left Foot to the tune of Me & My Shadow, and Dead Poets Society to Mutual Admiration Society. Hilarious fellow. So talented. :)

Also listened to Peter Jackson's wonderful speech for his Best Picture win, where he diplomatically invited Crystal over to NZ "anytime" to make movies. Awwwww. :)

My Wellington friend tells me NZ is preparing a royal welcome for Jackson very soon. She'll keep me posted on that, but adds that yes, the entire country is celebrating non-stop, and extremely proud. :)

And in Clay News, the video for The Way will premiere in the US ( on MTV's TRL sometime tonight Singapore time ). Looking forward to that! The Clay/Kelly tour rolls along, and a recent review of the Raleigh show mentioned how he sang into someone's cell phone, to a lady from Syracuse. The reporter then wrote "Clay probably triggered a heart attack in upstate New York." How very true. :D
I'm hoping my friends who are attending concerts in LA will do me the same favour. I hear they've got good seats, but even if Clay doesn't grab their phones, I'd still like to hear him "live" over the line. Hmm, must start making a few shift requests, I think. :)

Do you think our complaints about the Forum have finally achieved something? The section certainly has improved this week, especially in terms of the "nonsense letters" content ( hey Linda, you know what I'm talking about, right? ;)). Phew!

Well, it's yet another night shift, and the roster isn't any better either. But starting this month, we have our lovely weekend shift allowances, which can be substantial, though nothing compared to locum rates. We love to complain, but stick with it anyhow. Yep, doctors in government service are all masochists. Believe it. :P

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Belated Whooping.

Yes, yes, I KNOW LOTR swept all the Oscars. Don't worry, I'm absolutely ecstatic about it! So is every other human being out there in the world! :D Many congratulations to Peter Jackson and the LOTR team! I followed the results via Internet ( is one heck of a fast! Even couldn't come close in terms of timely updates. ) while working a horribly busy shift in resus yesterday morning. Intubated 2 women, ran around settling a whole lot of problematic patients, while 2 consultants ( including my ER chief ) attended to numerous others. In between, when we had the occasional 5-minute lull, my chief would glance over at my computer to ask about the latest wins. And during lunch in the staff pantry, another MO and I had our eyes glued to the TV, and I told him all about the LOTR tours in NZ, which he is very keen to join once he gets the chance. The land of Middle-earth will no doubt be swamped with tourists ( LOTR fans or not ) after this! I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to see this gorgeous country so recently, as well as visit film locations, the stars' favourite hangouts, and the now world-famous Weta studios. By the way, details of this trip are available in the March/April issue of Sensory - a magazine for local doctors. Pictures galore! My thanks to the editorial team for rushing my article into print so quickly, and doing such a great job with the layout. :)

I've emailed a friend in Wellington to ask what the general mood is like over there. Kiwis are such exuberant people, so I'm sure everyone's celebrating like crazy right now! If you haven't been to NZ yet, or last visited more than 10 years ago, you simply MUST return, 'cos so much has changed. Friends who went there eons ago were really shocked by the pictures I took during my holiday, so you can imagine what they missed.

Another reason I couldn't post anything yesterday is because I had to rush to a concert after work. I don't like to mention names of people I meet on a social basis, but you know who you are, so THANK YOU for the once-in-a-lifetime experience at the London Symphony Orchestra's centennial anniversary concert performance! The ticket came complimentary of a fellow medical friend, who kindly invited me when a block of sponsored seats was released to the public. These were fantastic seats. How fantastic? Third row centre fantastic. I was so close I could see conductor 28-year-old Daniel Harding's wedding ring, not to mention the creases on his coattails. I could also hear the first violin leader's breathing pattern, and noticed how the string section's bows kept fraying during the more demanding pieces ( the players just nonchalantly pluck the stray fibres off when resting ). This was my first orchestral performance ever , so it was a treat to see it so up close. I'm no classical music expert, preferring more mainstream fare which mostly mirrors examination pieces I'm forced to practise, or the usual famous melodies from well-known composers and yes, Hollywood films. :)
The LSO's programme comprised Britten, Stravinsky and Shostakovich, none of whom I know well -- studying them in theory exams doesn't count, right? But it didn't matter. The approximately 2-hour concert was enjoyable for me because I love to watch top-notch musicians doing what they were born to do, and the LSO members are nothing if not passionate. The lead first violinist, aka concert master according to one of my companions, threatened to steal the show. With an imposing frame, intense gaze ( he could've bored a hole in his music score from the way he was staring at it ) and lots of body movement during the more dramatic bits, he epitomizes so much of what professional musicians represent, albeit at a much higher level. :)

Harding looks extremely young, considering he's 28 and Caucasian to boot (you know how Westerners tend to appear older than they really are). Very boyish, extremely gracious, and poor fellow was drenched with perspiration after each piece, though never faltering in energy. His back was towards us most of the time, but I could see his face on and off when he turned to the side on certain occasions. He has a habit of opening his mouth wide, coupling it with a tense expression. Interesting. :)

The Vienna Philharmonic is next, with a show later this week, which one of my companions from yesterday will be attending. Orchestral concerts are a little too rich for my blood, unfortunately. I need to sit up front in order to really enjoy it, and those prime spots always cost $200 or more. Well, I'm just glad I got this chance at all. I will definitely remember it well.

So here I am, post-elation, working yet another busy shift, with people coming here for the flu and back strain. Hello??? It's office hours, and polyclinics and GPs are still around! What the heck are you doing in my consult room?!

All I can say is, thank goodness for LOTR and the LSO. :P